31(1) - 2019

Thomas Pynchon, traductologue en puissance

Nicolas Froeliger


Could Thomas Pynchon stand as a covert translation studies scholar after all?


This paper attempts to derive a theory of language and of translation from novelist Thomas Pynchon’s works, and especially from The Crying of Lot 49 (1966). The question of language and expression in this novel is thus first explored through their explicit mentions. Analogies are drawn with, on the one hand, the two extreme positions of paranoia and antiparanoia, and, on the other hand, the way translators make sense of a text by drawing a structure through terminology, phraseology and systemics. As regards style, one may also find useful analogies between translation postures and the three universes the novel’s heroine alternates between, which tends to confirm the view that some novels already contain the guidelines that would have to be used in translating them, thus leading to the production of a “second original text”. The paper closes on a more general discussion as to the epistemological risks entailed in such an endeavor, and the role of analogies in translation studies.


Translation studies, Thomas Pynchon, contemporary novels, literature, pragmatic translation

DOI 10.17462/para.2019.01.08